By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has called on the National Assembly, Nigeria Police Force and Department of State Services, among others, to urgently commence investigation of the immediate past Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva over alleged certificate forgery and identity theft.
Sylva who is a former Governor of Bayelsa State, recently emerged the gubernatorial candidate of the APC in Bayelsa State.
Frank made these request in a petition he addressed through his solicitors to the Senate President, Speaker, House of Representatives, Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the DSS, among others, on the matter.
In the petition, dated March 31, 2023, and signed by the Principal Partner of Graylaw Practice LP, Edward Omaga Esq., Frank urged the National Assembly to summon Sylva and officials from his alma maters in Nigeria and Switzerland to explain the inconsistencies in the identity of the politician.
According to the petitioner, Sylva’s primary school certificate carried his name as Anagha Timipere as evident in documents the ex-Minister filed before a court in the United States as part of an ongoing defamation suit brought by his lawyers.
He said Anagha Timipere was different from Marlin Anagha Timipre, which is the name on Sylva’s WAEC certificate.
He claimed that the ex-petroleum minister had also obtained his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Port-Harcourt, with the certificate bearing Anagha Timipre Marlin.
He insisted that this clearly contradicted Sylva’s 2011 doctoral degree certificate in International Relations from Ubis University, Switzerland, with the name Chief Timipre Sylva.
He further claimed that Sylva neither participated in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme nor did he obtain an exemption certificate as required by law.
The petition reads in part: “Obviously, the certificates mentioned above have visible anomalies and do not depict the true identity of CHIEF TIMPRE SYLVA. It is confusing as to who CHIEF TIMIPRE SYLVA is; who ANAGHA TIMIPRE MARLIN is; who MARLIN ANAGHA TIMIPRE is and who ANAGHA TIMIPERE is.
“There is no evidence anywhere showing that CHIEF TIMPRE SYLVA ever changed his name from ANAGHA TIMIPRE MARLIN to TIMIPRE SYLVA in 1986 after he purportedly graduated from University of Port Harcourt,” stated the petition.
“Investigation by our client reveals that there is also no record that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources has National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Discharge or Exemption Certificate, as the case may be, either in the name of ANAGHA TIMIPRE MARLIN or TIMIPRE SYLVA.”
The obvious discrepancies in the documents caused the petitioner to insist that Sylva may have forged his academic certificates or had them stolen from a third party, “an offence that violates Section 438 of the Criminal Code Act and carries a 14-year prison sentence.”
He urged both chambers of the National Assembly to summon the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), and State Security Services (SSS) officials for their roles in screening and approving Sylva’s ministerial appointment as well as his successful governorship bid in 2007.
He claimed that after learning that his identity inconsistencies could imperil his governorship quest, Sylva filed processes to change his name to Timipre Sylva in an official Government Gazette of May 12, 2022.
He said before seeking to change his name in an official gazette, Sylva had already served as Bayelsa State governor between 2007 and 2012 and also Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, among other top-level state and federal positions.
Additionally, the petitioner prayed the National Assembly to summon Sylva and officials from all the academic institutions that issued him certificates to confirm the actual identity of who they awarded the academic certificates.
The institutions include Ajeromi Central School in Apapa, Lagos, West African Examination Council (WAEC), University of Port-Harcourt and Ubis University, Switzerland.
He urged the Nigerian Immigration Service, through the National Assembly, to seize Sylva’s International Passport to prevent him from fleeing the country and seeking refuge in Western nations like U.S., Dubai, Canada, etc.
In another petition to the Governor of Bayelsa State and Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Frank who is the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), Ambassador to East Africa and Middle East, called on the State Government to urgently commence investigation to unravel the authenticity of certificates and true identity of Sylva.
He called on the state to derecognise Sylva as former Governor of the State if found to have either forged his certificates or altered his identity.